Opinion

The Great Debate

It’s time to retire Cyber Monday

It’s that time of year again. Time for Americans to gather, eat turkey with all the fixings, and give thanks for what they’ve got. It’s also time for our old friend Cyber Monday — the Monday following Black Friday — one of the biggest shopping days of the year. But frankly, it’s a holiday we can do without.

I have nothing against online shopping. I’d much rather sip a cappuccino and shop in the comfort of my own home than endure long lines and fight with other harried customers in the post-Thanksgiving rush. But this holiday no longer reflects the realities of digital shopping in 2013.

First mentioned in an announcement by Shop.org on November 28, 2005, Cyber Monday was dreamed up by marketers to address a legitimate consumer need. Few U.S. consumers had high-speed Internet access at home, and it was reasoned that a dedicated day to encourage people to shop online when they returned to work the following Monday would give a boost to holiday sales.

That turned out to be true. But with broadband now reaching almost 80 percent of U.S. homes, as well as the explosion of mobile commerce, Cyber Monday today is more of a learned Pavlovian response than a true need.

There’s no denying that the holiday has been a huge shopping success. It set records for one-day online shopping for the past three years in a row. In 2012, for example, Cyber Monday spending totaled $1.465 billion, according to comScore, making it the single largest online spending day in history. Growth was especially robust in categories such as digital content and subscriptions, consumer electronics and computer hardware — the latter two primarily driven by sales of smartphones and tablets.

The retail price of America’s income inequality

Retail is considered one of the bright spots in the American economy, one of only six job categories projected to grow nationally through 2018. But a survey released this week makes clear that many of these are jobs in name only, offering poverty-level wages, highly restricted access to benefits, part-time work when full-time is desired, and a workforce so cowed that it routinely accepts working conditions that make work-life balance, or the chance to upgrade skills and move into better-paid work elsewhere, all but impossible.

The survey, conducted by Retail Action Project, a New York City-based workers’ advocacy group, offers frank data from 436 workers in 230 stores across the city’s five boroughs, from the luxury purveyors of Fifth Avenue to discount outlets in the Bronx. With 242,000 retail workers in Manhattan alone, the data – the first ever gathered directly from these workers – offers a telling and sobering look at this important industry.

The report’s highlights:

    The median wage in New York is $9.50 an hour, 52 percent lower than the citywide average for all industries. If associates in one of the nation’s costliest cities can’t even earn a living wage, who can? Black and Latino workers surveyed are more likely to be hired part-time and given worse schedules than their coworkers. Based on average wages and hours worked per week, white workers’ income is 12 percent higher than that of their black colleagues. Just over half of workers surveyed earn less than $10 an hour. But more than three-quarters of female Latino workers – 77 percent – fall beneath that threshold. While 54 percent of white workers received a raise or promotion after six months on the job, only 39 percent of black workers and 28 percent of Latino workers did.

The irony of retail work for many of these employees is that they can’t afford to buy much of what they’re selling. When I worked as an associate for 27 months at The North Face, a $30 hat, even with an employee discount, cost more than an hour of my labor.

from The Great Debate UK:

Is there a new breed of self-reliant investors?

TD-James Daly is TD Waterhouse Investor Centre Representative regarding investor confidence.  The opinions expressed are his own.-

Will the new decade herald the emergence of a new breed of self-reliant individual investors?

Some seem to think so according to TD Waterhouse’s annual Investor Confidence Survey of over 1,000 individual investors across the UK, with over half (53 percent) of respondents stating that they now rely more on their own decisions when making investment choices compared to just under a fifth (19 percent) who said they look more to professional advisers and brokers than they did last year.

  •